The Supreme Court yesterday overturned a Taiwan High Court ruling last year that found the defendants in the “Hsichih Trio” case not guilty.
Saying there were “contradictory accounts” and issues that needed further investigation, the Supreme Court returned the case to the Taiwan High Court for retrial.
The latest ruling marked another turn in the series of legal twists that has seen the case drag on for more than two decades.
The “Hsichih Trio” are Su Chien-ho (蘇建和), Liu Bin-lang (劉秉郎) and Chuang Lin-hsun (莊林勳), who, along with Wang Wen-hsiao (王文孝), were suspected of robbing and murdering Wu Min-han (吳銘漢) and his wife, Yeh Ying-lan (葉盈蘭), in the Taipei suburb” of Sijhih (汐止), also known as Hsichih, on March 24, 1991. The couple were found dead in their apartment. They had been stabbed 79 times.
Wang, an army conscript, was sentenced and executed under military law in January 1992.
Su, Liu and Chuang were incarcerated in 1991 at the age of 19 and remained in jail until 2003, eight of those years spent on death row.
In May 2000, then-state public prosecutor-general Chen Han (陳涵) made three extraordinary appeals to the Supreme Court for a retrial. In January 2003, the High Court acquitted the trio. Prosecutors filed another appeal with the Supreme Court, which ordered yet another retrial. The High Court again sentenced the three to death in June 2007.
In 2009, the trio’s panel of lawyers presented a report by forensic scientist Henry Lee (李昌鈺), which said that a single killer could have carried out the double murder and rape.
Referring to new information given in the forensic report by Lee, the high court in November last year said Wang had most likely acted alone in committing the two murders. The court reversed the death sentences given to the three by the high court in June 2007 on charges of robbery and premeditated murder.
Expressing regret over the latest ruling, Su Yiu-chen (蘇友辰), the trio’s defense lawyer, asserted his clients’ innocence.
We will never see the end of this case if the court remains overly fastidious, he added.
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